One Woman's Free Speech


Substack has been a fun development, because it's freed so many voices one could never hear otherwise. One such voice is Graham Linehan, an Irish media personality. He has been banned from Twitter (at least) for the temerity to say that males are not females. He's created a substack called the Glinner Update, and today he posted something I've been thinking about a lot.

He begins the post by pointing out that a recent 6-person UK panel on "Inspiring Women" is actually composed of 4 females and 2 trans-identified males; fully 1/3 of the panel on inspiring women is actually male! But then the rest of the post is actually devoted to reprinting in full a comment from Mumsnet (which Linehan notes has an anti-misgendering rule) which is so eloquent that I feel to bring it to you attention in full, as well:

"I know some are still willing to take what they see as reasonable compromises with language. But honestly, when we pretend that it's ok for some men to be called 'transwomen', that use of the word 'woman' right there in relation to a man is all it takes to render the truth invisible and impossible to reassert.

"We end up trying to argue about a somethingwoman representing us, when the truth is, it's just a man.

"We end up arguing the case for somethingwomen to argue for their own increased representation, a bit like the otherwomen - us. But what we're actually doing is arguing for more men. This is insane.

"Men don't need extra representation of a certain type of man. There are already too many men. Far too many. If men who don't like certain sartorial choices, or who don't have certain personality types think it vital to cede places to men who do, have at it, men. I don't think that's an important characteristic, but you can fight your own battles amongst yourselves.

"There's only one antidote to the situation we find ourselves in, and it's brutally plain speech. So it's no coincidence that laws are springing up and policies being written and public platforms enacting censorship to prevent anyone from using it.

"Men are men. We need to be able to say "this is a man, he's simply a man" whether the man dislikes us saying it or not.

"Truth, fairness and dignity demand it.

"Couching words in euphemisms and lies is rendering it impossible to cut to the truth.

"Men are representing women.

"Men are taking women's places.

"Men are dictating the language women can use.

"Men are breaching women's boundaries.

"Men are rewriting rules for what women may and may not do.

"And yet, we are forbidden from pointing to a single man who is doing this and stating "He is a man".

"It doesn't matter if a man thinks me rude or hurtful for referencing him as the man that he is. It's vital that the truth is used.

"No amount of his hurt feelings at us both knowing that he's a man can measure up against the monstrous injustice enacted upon women in forcing us to pretend he's any kind of a woman. It's psychological torture and well he knows it.

"Ironic that I should try to say this here on Mumsnet, where it's a bannable offence to actually tell a specific named man that he's a man, if he forbids me to.

"I'm only allowed to generalise. I'm permitted to say 'all males are men', but not 'this male here is a man'.

"So here's a challenge, RobinMoiraWhite. [Note: This is a trans-identified male barrister who reports anyone on Mumsnet who insists that males are not females.]

"Extend your explicit permission to the women on Mumsnet to state the truth which is so unpalatable to you. Tell MNHQ that they should not censor or ban women for knowing and saying what you are in relation to your sex. Either to you directly, or about you. If you allow women to talk to you in the framework of naming reality, we can meet on this forum as equals.

"We can debate as equals.

"Because right now, we are not. You are the opposite sex to me, and you are also in possession of the power to have me banned and censored if I challenge you with the truth.

"I cannot have you censored and banned for calling yourself a woman. Nor would I. I would rather successfully argue my case why you are not.

"But you can have me censored and banned for calling you a man.

"Waive your power to do that. You shouldn't have that power.

"Other men who still call themselves transwomen have extended their 'permission' to allow women to refer to them as the men they are. It shouldn't be lost on you that we're in a situation of such a power imbalance that women require a man's permission to call him a man.

"So. If you see women as your equals, I'm asking you to waive your right to censor us. If you believe in the power of honest debate, you will cede your power to have women banned for stating the truth.

"You will call yourself what you wish.

"And we will refer to you in our own honest, civil and fair terms.

"Then we can meet as equals.

"What do you say?"

Wow, that is a woman speaking in her power. A shadow of Her power. One of the sentences that struck me the most: "we're in a situation of such a power imbalance that women require a man's permission to call him a man." Just as they did 100 years ago, men squash women's attempt to speak, but no longer on the basis that men are men and women must keep silent--now on the basis that men are women and women who are not men must keep silent. This is the same old patriarchy we've always had to fight; it's just dressed differently now. I think I know exactly what our suffragist and suffragette foremothers would have said about this new development!

I'm grateful to Linehan and other male friends of women who call out this atavistic nonsense when they hear it, and turn up the volume of women's voices who fight it. Did I mention this post of Linehan's is entitled "100% Baloney"? Through the efforts of Linehan and others, we are beginning to get glimpses of just how naked, and how ugly, that emperor really is.